Jeff Abbas poses with agates and polishing equipment at his studio in rural NE Iowa. / Photo by Sara Friedl-Putnam
Jeff Abbas has been connecting communities, chasing passions, and picking up rocks for most of his life. A self proclaimed "agatographer", his passion for Lake Superior agates and photography have found him producing stunning images of billion-plus year old agates. His ability to connect friends through photography led to the creation of the "Morning Coffee Shots" Facebook group that proceeded to connect hundreds of friends and soon-to-be friends through the pandemic and beyond.
Jeff Abbas holds a polished agate. / Photo by Sara Friedl-Putnam
An Iowa native, Abbas set across the US after school to see the country, and by the mid-1970s found himself in the US Navy, and then Central California. It was here that he found a passion for all that California offered - including the Sierra Foot Hills. Early jobs included using early generation digital cameras (a Sony Mavica to be exact), to capture wildflower images in the Sierra - an idyllic job in many ways that would send him out into the wilderness for a few days at a time. Jeff also had an interest in broadcasting, and a voice to back it up - but flipped a coin to decide if he should pursue education in broadcasting or culinary arts. The culinary path won, but his part time volunteer work at KUOP 93.1 FM in Stockton, CA would lead him into a career in broadcasting (including a short stint at a smooth jazz station - you'll have to listen to hear Jeff's on-air pseudonym!).
But the draw of the midwest, and the boom of California helped Jeff circle back to NE Iowa in the early 2000s. It was a chance opportunity to jump back into community radio at the now defunct KPVL 89.1 FM in Postville that put Jeff back on the air. There was no way to know it, but Jeff would be at the center of community information when the 2008 ICE Immigration raid of Agriprocessors (the largest ever immigration raid in the US at that time). That event would also connect him to his now wife, Mary, who was working with Catholic Charities in the aftermath of the raid.
Photo by Jeff Abbas Agate Photography
Although Jeff had been interested in agates his whole life, he credits the book "The Other Lake Superior Agates" by John D Marshall for sparking an even deeper appreciation and fascination with discovering the intricacies of these marvelous creations. Jeff describes an amazing intersection of "art and interest" in coaxing the almost magical designs and features of these billion-plus year old treasures. Tie in his love of photography and sharing with community, and Jeff has found at least another life's work in his passion for "agatography".